I call upon God’s Name and on my own.
God’s Name is holy, but no holier than yours. To call upon His Name is but to call upon your own. A father gives his son his name, and thus identifies the son with him. His brothers share his name, and thus are they united in a bond to which they turn for their identity. Your Father’s Name reminds you who you are, even within a world that does not know; even though you have not remembered it.
God’s Name can not be heard without response, nor said without an echo in the mind that calls you to remember. Say His Name, and you invite the angels to surround the ground on which you stand, and sing to you as they spread out their wings to keep you safe, and shelter you from every worldly thought that would intrude upon your holiness.
Repeat God’s Name, and all the world responds by laying down illusions. Every dream the world holds dear has suddenly gone by, and where it seemed to stand you find a star; a miracle of grace. The sick arise, healed of their sickly thoughts. The blind can see; the deaf can hear. The sorrowful cast off their mourning, and the tears of pain are dried as happy laughter comes to bless the world.
Repeat the Name of God, and little names have lost their meaning. No temptation but becomes a nameless and unwanted thing before God’s Name. Repeat His Name, and see how easily you will forget the names of all the gods you valued. They have lost the name of god you gave them. They become anonymous and valueless to you, although before you let the Name of God replace their little names, you stood before them worshipfully, naming them as gods.
Repeat the Name of God, and call upon your Self, Whose Name is His. Repeat His Name, and all the tiny, nameless things on earth slip into right perspective. Those who call upon the Name of God can not mistake the nameless for the Name, nor sin for grace, nor bodies for the holy Son of God. And should you join a brother as you sit with him in silence, and repeat God’s Name along with him within your quiet mind, you have established there an altar which reaches to God Himself and to His Son.
Practice but this today; repeat God’s Name slowly again and still again. Become oblivious to every name but His. Hear nothing else. Let all your thoughts become anchored on this. No other word we use except at the beginning, when we say today’s idea but once. And then God’s Name becomes our only thought, our only word, the only thing that occupies our minds, the only wish we have, the only sound with any meaning, and the only Name of everything that we desire to see; of everything that we would call our own.
Thus do we give an invitation which can never be refused. And God will come, and answer it Himself. Think not He hears the little prayers of those who call on Him with names of idols cherished by the world. They cannot reach Him thus. He cannot hear requests that He be not Himself, or that His Son receive another name than His.
Repeat God’s Name, and you acknowledge Him as sole Creator of reality. And you acknowledge also that His Son is part of Him, creating in His Name. Sit silently, and let His Name become the all-encompassing idea that holds your mind completely. Let all thoughts be still except this one. And to all other thoughts respond with this, and see God’s Name replace the thousand little names you gave your thoughts, not realizing that there is one Name for all there is, and all that there will be.
Today you can achieve a state in which you will experience the gift of grace. You can escape all bondage of the world, and give the world the same release you found. You can remember what the world forgot, and offer it your own remembering. You can accept today the part you play in its salvation, and your own as well. And both can be accomplished perfectly.
Turn to the Name of God for your release, and it is given you. No prayer but this is necessary, for it holds them all within it. Words are insignificant, and all requests unneeded when God’s Son calls on his Father’s Name. His Father’s Thoughts become his own. He makes his claim to all his Father gave, is giving still, and will forever give. He calls on Him to let all things he thought he made be nameless now, and in their place the holy Name of God becomes his judgment of their worthlessness.
All little things are silent. Little sounds are soundless now. The little things of earth have disappeared. The universe consists of nothing but the Son of God, who calls upon his Father. And his Father’s Voice gives answer in his Father’s holy Name. In this eternal, still relationship, in which communication far transcends all words, and yet exceeds in depth and height whatever words could possibly convey, is peace eternal. In our Father’s Name, we would experience this peace today. And in His Name, it shall be given us.
INITIAL INSIGHT: Everything that we see as form in this world, every thought that comes from the split mind, every desire that is not of God, is an idol we made to take God’s place. Today, we are encouraged to turn our backs on all of that. We are told to call on the name of God instead. We are also reminded that it is our name as well. Jesus has been telling us for a few lessons now that we are in God and part of God, that we are God the Son. Jesus wants us to realize that the Son is like the Father and as the Father is God, so are we. God shared His name with us in our creation; He shared all of Himself.
In calling on the name of God, we are claiming our true Identity, our Self, as we accept His name as our own. Jesus is encouraging us to call on the name of God and to ignore everything else. Of course, we cannot entirely ignore the world we pretend to inhabit, but we can do so for periods of time. This is what meditation is for. We sink below the chatter of the mind and leave the world for a bit.
We can do this during the day as well. I have asked the Holy Spirit to remind me of my decision to turn away from the chattering mind during the day and He is doing so. I will suddenly notice that I am listening to my thoughts and so I stop. I don’t care whether the thoughts stop or not because I have stopped paying attention to them.
It can be like having the TV on in the background but having no idea what is playing. Sometimes it is like being between stations on the radio where you mostly hear only static. I am going to add to this practice by calling the name of God as well, though that has been my intention all along.
One of my favorite paragraphs in the Course is in this lesson.
“2 God’s Name can not be heard without response, nor said without an echo in the mind that calls you to remember. Say His Name, and you invite the angels to surround the ground on which you stand, and sing to you as they spread out their wings to keep you safe, and shelter you from every worldly thought that would intrude upon your holiness.”
On those occasions when I fall into an ego story and fear enters my mind, I call on God’s Name and I call on the angels to surround me and keep me safe from the dark thoughts in my mind. It is my way of saying that I stand by my decision to release the ego thought system from my mind and that I need help in doing so. If my mind is protected from the ego’s discouraging and untrue thoughts, my life will remain peaceful and happy.
“Repeat the Name of God, and call upon your Self, Whose Name is His. Repeat His Name, and all the tiny, nameless things on earth slip into right perspective.”
Jesus is not saying that God will destroy the ego. He is saying that we will learn to see it as it is and so no longer worship at its altar. We will then use the mind for a holy purpose rather than for the ego’s purposes. I think that in the beginning of my practice, I misunderstood what I was to do with the ego. I thought I was to kill it, to obliterate it, but now I understand, I am to simply allow the Holy Spirit to reinterpret it. This is far more reasonable and more closely aligned with the truth. I still say I am going to undo the ego, but what I mean by that is I am going to undo my belief in the ego.
Today, when I read this, I cried. My heart aches for salvation. I also felt my heart swell as an ancient memory began to awaken in me. What a gorgeous lesson this is! I feel myself answering its call. I don’t have any words to share right now. Maybe later as I nourish this experience and let it grow in me.
DAILY APPLICATION: Getting to where I am today required many little steps, but I think this entry from my journal spoke of a turning point for me. I think it was in 2015.
Letting go of the little gods
As I sat calling on the Name of God, I noticed all my little gods crowding in, demanding my obeisance. The god, “doctor and medicine” kept offering solutions to a physical problem. The god, “money” promised to solve a plethora of problems, while at the same time threatening to remove those solutions if I failed to worship it and work for it, and sacrifice my life for it.
Even the god, “awakening” offered me freedom from my own decisions and thus became something, in my mind, impossible, and so, impossible to achieve. When I asked about that I was given these thoughts.
Jesus: How could awakening from the dream be itself and yet promise you salvation from your own choice to be in the dream. Surely, it is the opposite of salvation to say that you have reason to be afraid and no ability to simply choose for yourself to be saved. Awakening must come from love of God, not fear of the world.
The cruel god, “time” showed up to warn me it was passing, passing, and passing. I had things to do and there was a limit on its gift to me. Time is a stingy god, and one that will, inevitably, withdraw from me completely. How I have worshipped it and trembled at its powers.
Perhaps the scariest god I made is “self” because it says my allegiance to it cannot be undone, that to withdraw from self is suicide. It claims that it is what I am, and to turn from it would destroy me. It says that self can work out every problem and it offers me a myriad of choices, and of just as many distractions from the failure to find a solution. And of course, there is the solution to end all solutions, the final solution, death.
All these gods I made to replace the only God there is. What poor substitutes they are. I gave what little time I could wrestle from my gods to my Father. I turned from each one as it appeared in my mind and gave my love to the God of Creation. I was reminded that thoughts leave not their source and so, these false gods I made are still in my mind and under my control.
Because they are not of Creation, I can unmake them simply through a refusal to worship them. I can turn away from them and they will die a quiet death from disinterest. This was the thought I was given this morning when I asked how to be finally rid of these false “god thoughts” and how to know my God and claim my Name again.
INSIGHTS FROM HOLY SPIRIT: Yes, let go of the idea of wrestling with them and slaying them. This just endows them with a false sense of reality and makes it seem impossible to become free of them. Instead, simply turn away. Turn from the dark gods you made to the Light that is God. Turn from anxiety to peace, from fear to love, from guilt to innocence. It requires no struggle, just a simple, quiet decision made many times until it is the only decision you would make.
GRATITUDE: I am filled with gratitude for what I am and what God is!
Our current goals:
- Widen the horizons of our vision
- Take direct approaches to uncover the blocks that keep our vision narrow
- Lift those blocks, however briefly, in order to experience the sense of liberation that comes when the blocks are removed
- Intensify our motivation for freedom
Swami Ramdas was a twentieth century Indian saint who found awakening through the constant repetition of the name of God. Here’s what Ram Dass (Richard Alpert) wrote about Swami Ramdas and the practice of mantra:
“The first time I started to work with beads and the repetition of either the mantra in praise of RAM, “Sri Ram Jai Ram, Jai Jai Ram,” or just the single word, “Ram” in 1968, I recognized the potential power of this simple devotional technique to rend the veil of ignorance from moment to moment thus allowing one to imbue one’s life with spirit.
It was easy to keep the mantra going in my room in the ashram, but as I ventured forth into the world, I found that the fascinations, seductions and slings and arrows of daily life so often distracted me from ‘remembering.’ It was hard for me to imagine how it could be otherwise.
Then in 1970 I came upon the writings of Swami Ramdas (or ‘Papa Ramdas’, as I thought of him). And there it was, so innocently presented, a testament to the possibility that by remembering Ram (God), one’s life could be transformed, totally transformed, moment by moment, into divine lila (play).”
Eknath Easwaran, translator of the Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads and Dhammapada, wrote this regarding Swami Ramdas:
“The very presence of Papa Ramdas comforted and strengthened us. He was visible proof that a man apparently like you and me—not an austere, emaciated monk, but a former textile technician who had lived in the midst of worldly activity—had become established in the awareness of God.”
Today’s workbook lesson asks us to spend one day in the devotional practice that Swami Ramdas followed. We are asked to spend one day repeating the Name of God, remembering that His Name is also our own. The lesson says:
“Practice but this today; repeat God’s Name slowly again and still again. Become oblivious to every name but His. Hear nothing else. Let all your thoughts become anchored on this. No other word we use except at the beginning, when we say today’s idea but once. And then God’s Name becomes our only thought, our only word, the only thing that occupies our minds, the only wish we have, the only sound with any meaning, and the only Name of everything that we desire to see; …”
The Course does not tell us what God’s name is. Maybe this is left to us, so we can use the name that feels most devotional to us.
Swami Ramdas recited, “Sri Ram Jai Ram, Jai Jai Ram.” If this suits your heart, you may recite this mantra today.
According to Biblical tradition, the name of God that was given to Moses is “I am that I am.” That was also the mantra that was given to me in May of 2008.
Many people have told me they do not like the mantra, “I am that I am,” because they do not know what it means. “That” is a pronoun specifically linked to identification. It refers to a specific thing already mentioned or understood, and it ascribes a specific feature to that thing, a feature that is essential to identification. For example, the table that is round or the blouse that is blue.
“I am that I am” ascribes “I am” as a specific identifying feature to “I am”. In other words, it is “I am” doubly repeated and emphasized. It is similar to how Ramana Maharshi sometimes referred to the Self as “I-I.”
Today, if you choose to use the mantra “I am that I am” as the Name of God, remember that today’s lesson says, “To call upon God’s Name is but to call upon your own.” With this thought in mind, say to yourself, “I am that I am.” Notice I am is doubly repeated and emphasized. Feel the meaning of that in your soul. Let yourself linger in that silent meaning, and then repeat the mantra again. As today’s lesson instructs:
“Sit silently, and let His Name become the all-encompassing idea that holds your mind completely. Let all thoughts be still except this one. And to all other thoughts respond with this, and see God’s Name replace the thousand little names you gave your thoughts. … Today you can achieve a state in which you will experience the gift of grace. … No prayer but this is necessary, for it holds them all within it.”
Note: You may replace today’s awareness-watching-awareness practice with this practice. You might also try watching awareness as you practice the Name of God mantra.
- If you are interested in learning more about Swami Ramdas and his practice of mantra, I recommend his book, “In Quest of God.”
- If you are interested in reading the story of Moses and the name “I am that I am,” you can read Exodus 3:1-15 at this link.
I feel such reverence for the word, God, that I use it in my meditation.